Magazine article Public Finance

Swinney's First Budget Includes 'Historic' Deal for Scots Councils

Magazine article Public Finance

Swinney's First Budget Includes 'Historic' Deal for Scots Councils

Article excerpt

Scotland's Finance secretary John Swinney hailed an 'historic agreement' with town halls as he unveiled the SNP government's £30bn budget at Holyrood on November 14.

He told the Scottish Parliament he was putting in place the resources to freeze the council tax for 2008 - 'just as we promised we would do'. Local government would receive £10.1bn next year, he said.

Swinney added that from April next year, business rates for 150,000 small businesses across Scotland would be reduced and, in due course, for many, removed by this SNP government'.

He said: 'I have taken the right decisions to release resources for key public services. I have constructed a package that will create new opportunities for the people of Scotland.'

Pat Watters, president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, said what was on offer was 'the best deal that can be delivered at the moment'.

He added: 'The package has been agreed within a tight financial context, but the role that local government plays in the governance of Scotland has been substantially enhanced, and the decline in local government's share of total expenditure has been halted.'

But he warned that it would be up to each of the 32 councils to make their own decision on freezing council tax. …

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